Pour Decisions of Summer

The Lazy Days of Summer

There’s no such thing as a ‘poor’ decision in the Summer, is there? Whatever you are pouring, it always tastes a little better in the Summer. Well, things are starting to heat up here on the East Coast of Canada. It’s supposed to hit 28-degrees today. This is my last wine blog for 2 weeks. I am heading to Newfoundland on vacation next Saturday the 23rd. I don’t mind sharing this with my wine friends, next Friday on the 22nd, I turn 60 years old. So I’m visiting family and friends, and doing a little celebrating on the side.

Gross Morne National Park

My friend Angie is flying down for a few days, and it’s going to be her first time in Newfoundland. I love showing people around my home province. It’s very unique, filled with wonderful people, places and food. One of my goals is to do the spectacular Gros Morne Boat Tour, which is a boat tour that takes you through the fjords of Gros Morne National Park. I live on the West Coast of Newfoundland,(Corner Brook) so we are definitely going to be heading to Gros Morne, so hopefully weather permits we are able to do the boat tour. My Dad is originally from Bonne Bay, so I’m very familiar with the area. It’s a gorgeous drive and you are pretty well guaranteed to see some interesting wildlife.

Can’t wait to see my family and of course this family member…. Miss Maggie

I have something to share with you. I made homemade pasta for the first time this week. Yup, from scratch.

Flour, eggs, olive oil and salt. I formed a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes.

My friends Fred & Arla lent me their pasta machine, which smoothed the dough out. However, I had a little trouble with the attachment that made fettucine, so I cut it myself.

I made a green olive paste from scratch, which consisted of olives, olive oil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, garlic and lime juice. And then I added 4 cheeses, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan with just a sprinkle of cheddar on top and baked it.

It turned out tasty but here’s where I went wrong on my first attempt. The instructions with the pasta machine said to boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Now I know homemade pasta takes less time to cook than boxed pasta, but because I cut it myself, it was a little thicker. I definitely should have let it boil for another 2 minutes. I would say 5 minutes. It was a little more toothsome than al dente. I ate it though. That’s the beauty of trying to make pasta from scratch, you learn as you go, and you get to eat your results.

The wine you are seeing in the picture is this one

655 Cabernet Sauvignon

Here’s the 655 Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi California and it’s on sale right now, priced under $15 at our local liquor store. To my reader friends in Newfoundland, it’s available there too. Great wine, with mostly Cabernet and a little Petite Sirah and Syrah (2 different grapes) added in to make a complex interesting wine at a great price.

If in the hot weather, you like something iced cold, me and some friends tried this last weekend. OMG! This is good. As a kid, I used to love creamsicle ice cream. If you did too, you’ll love this. Black Fly Vodka Orange Crush.

Black Fly Orange Crush

And now for my wine of the week……

Chronic Cellars

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a great wine label. And every once in a while, you have to treat yourself. So this was my treat last night, Chronic Cellars Red Blend. This gorgeous blend, dominated by 70% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah and 4% Grenache, won’t disappoint. Wow. Given 91 Points and an Editor’s Choice by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. And it’s still priced at just $25 here. A big welcome to our new readers from the U.S. Obviously the price is quite different where you live. Your neighbours to the North pay a lot more for wine.

Stay safe in the heat my friends. I’m on the road next Saturday and in Newfoundland the following Saturday. I’ll be back in 3 weeks with some new adventures, lots of pictures and a new wine or two.

Cheers

A France Reunion

Last Saturday night, the group of us who went to France, plus some other friends, got together for a wine tasting.

The Gang

We sure did miss Ed & Juanita, who live in PEI and wasn’t able to make it over. But we had a fabulous evening of amazing food and some good wine. First of all, I have to say Wow at the food we had that night. Cathy put out an unbelievable spread. Appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, and a charcuterie board that would put a professional chef to shame.

A work of art

It was a wonderful night of stories and some good laughs. We featured some great white wines.

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc

From the Marlborough region of New Zealand, Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc is a family owned winery and Peter Jackson is the head winemaker. Gorgeous structure and bright acidity, Richard guessed the grape immediately because of it’s tropical fruit notes on the nose. If you are a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, like I am, this one is definitely worth trying.

Centerstone Chardonnay

I’ve bought Chardonnay to wine tastings from all over the world. One of the things many people don’t like about Chardonnay is how oaky it is. Well, this one from the Willamette Valley in Oregon is unoaked and very tasty. Apple and pineapple flavors shine, and is not over-powered by any oak.

We also had a Rose, one of my favorites, Gerard Bertrand Rose. I’ve written about this one before. I love this rose wine.

We also had a local Nova Scotia wine, Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay.

Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay

Representing the terroir of Nova Scotia, this crisp wine was perfect with the charcuterie board, but ultimately was designed for seafood.

You know it is impossible for me to write a wine blog without featuring a red. And what a red wine I have to feature.

Bear with me while I tell you a short story. On Tuesday, it was my friend Angie’s birthday. We were getting together Wednesday to have a sip, I bought this special bottle of wine to celebrate my friend’s birthday. But when I got there, she had another one opened. So I never got to try it that night. Last night, I went downstairs to our Common Room for Happy Hour, and one of the ladies had bought this bottle of wine and offered me a glass. Wow! I have had the J. Lohr Merlot, the Red Blend, the Zinfandel and now I’ve had the Cabernet Sauvignon. I love J Lohr wines and this Cabernet has been named one of the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the United States in 2021. Full-bodied and rich, this wine, perfect beef wine, is a treat bottle at $32 a bottle. But so worth it.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. One of our red wines was skunky last weekend, so we didn’t drink it. I’ll have some new wines for next weekend as well. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

A Weekend of Celebration

Well this is turning out to be a busy weekend of celebrations. First of all, it is Father’s Day weekend, so many people are celebrating. Today also happens to be my Brother-in-law’s birthday. Craig is one of my favorite people on the planet, so kind and so sweet. And he is so good to my Mom, so I hope you have a wonderful birthday Craig.

Jackie’s Husband Craig

Yesterday also saw the arrival of a friend I met last year, and a huge fan of this wine blog, that lives in Ottawa, Jeanne.

Jeanne & Judy

Jeanne has 2 sisters that live here in Halifax, so she is down visiting. And the get together was also an opportunity to celebrate one of my very good friends, who is having a birthday on Tuesday, June 21st.

Angie

I’ve never met anyone who loves to celebrate like my friend Angie. It was a wonderful night last night. Many many bottles of vino were consumed. And we had a spectacular meal hosted by our friends Sue and Larry in their beautiful home.

Sue & Larry

We sat around a table with fabulous food and great friends, and laughed and told stories. It’s my favorite kind of meal. I am getting to know new friends through Angie, like her son Mike and his partner Darlene. So I’m new to this group of wonderful people, and they call this Darlene ‘Dar’ too. My family and friends have been calling me Dar for years, so this will be fun. Any time someone calls out ‘Dar’, both of us will probably answer.

Angie’s son Michael & Darlene

Last week also saw my first attempt of making Coq au Vin. You might remember I had it on my recent trip to France for the very first time.

Coq au Vin in France

So I’ve been wanting to make it since I got back. And here’s an interesting note. The Coq au Vin I had in France was made with drumsticks, dark meat. I don’t normally eat dark meat chicken, but I loved it. So I used both chicken breast and drumsticks again in my slow cooker.

My Coq au Vin

I have to be honest, I preferred the dark meat in this dish. It is slow cooked for 7 hours, and the chicken falls off the bone. I had it with garlic cheesy mashed potatoes and it was heavenly. I not only shared some with the birthday girl, I also had enough for 2 meals. Chicken slow cooked with carrots, mushrooms, onions in a red wine sauce / broth. Very yummy.

My Sunday meal

I will definitely be making it again. And it was easy. I didn’t have any brandy in the house, I bet that adds a nice flavor. You’ll see some recipes add a splash of brandy, and I will probably try that next time. The recipe I used is here. I used Merlot instead of Cabernet, and some recipes call for Pinot Noir. I think any red will do.

Speaking of wine, let’s check out some wines.

Picpoul

If you are looking for a new refreshing white wine this Summer, check out Picpoul. Picpoul, also known as Folle Blanche, is a vibrant white wine that originates from the Rhone region in southern France. It’s a beautiful wine, and every time I bring it to a wine tasting, people love it. And it’s priced under $20, so it’s affordable. (I’m not bringing it tonight BTW)

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Kenwood Zinfandel

It’s BBQ season, and that brings out the Zinfandel. Kenwood from Sonoma County is a gorgeous deep and delicious red wine. Rich and flavorful, it goes with anything you put on the grill this Father’s Day weekend.

My Group in France

I have a wine tasting tonight with the people I went to France with, with some new wines I look forward to sharing next week.

Have a great weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Summer is Almost Here

Hello June. June can be a busy month for me. First day of Summer is in June. Also, some special Anniversaries in the month of June for my family.

Mom & Dad

Tomorrow, June 5th, would have marked Mom & Dad’s 64th wedding Anniversary. My Dad passed away in 2020, 3 months shy of his 90th birthday. My Mom is celebrating with a special dinner with my sister and her husband.

Jackie & Craig 35 years ago

Happy 35th Anniversary to one of my favorite couples on the planet. My sister Jackie, and her husband Craig celebrates 35 years of marriage tomorrow, June 5th .

Jackie & Craig more recently

These two people are two of the kindest, most giving people you could ever meet. When they got married Jackie was a nurse and Craig worked for Newfoundland Light & Power. Since then, they have built a very successful business, Simms Financia,l and they are always giving back to their family and to their community. Most of it anonymously. They are also some of the funniest people you’ll ever meet, and I can’t wait to see them in July, because I know it will mean a good side-stitching laugh. Happy Anniversary Jackie & Craig! I miss you both so much.

La Vielle Ferme White

On a warm sunny day, I love a nice white wine with tropical fruit flavors, reminds me of being down South. This wine fits the bill, and affordably priced under $16. It’s less than that in other parts of Canada, we tend to pay a little more for wine than in other parts of Canada. Still a great value.

Ribs in the air fryer

I’m having fun discovering new ways to use my air fryer. Most people I work with have one, and apparently hot dogs are awesome, done in the air fryer I haven’t had hot dogs yet, but last night I tried ribs for the first time, using the air fryer for the finishing touches. So, last night I had my favorite meal. Ribs and wings. I know it’s hard to believe, but I wasn’t in the mood to start the BBQ last night, so I tried a new way. I’m a bit of a rib purist, I’m very picky when it comes to ribs.

I slow cooked a small rack of baby back ribs in the oven, 250-degrees for two and a half hours. To crisp them up I put them in the air fryer. Came out great. 10 minutes on each side. It may have beat the BBQ for timing and convenience, but not in taste. After slow cooking my ribs for a while, I put them on bbq, top rack, and continue to slow cook them. And put them on the flame at the very last minute for the grill marks and crispy char bits. When it comes to ribs, nothing beats slow and low.

Here’s the wine I had with it.

Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve written about the Kenwood Zindandel previously and last night I had the Cabernet Sauvignon. On clearance for about $19, it’s still under $25 regular priced. Making great wine from the Sonoma Valley in California since 1970. Sonoma is located in the perfect location, between the Pacific Ocean and the Mayacamas Mountains. In my opinion, the effects of both the ocean and the mountains, provide the perfect environment for wine grapes.

That’s it for me for this week

Have a great week.

Darlene

More Great Wines Under $20

I had a bit of a scare this morning. When I first got up this morning, I decided to do a few housekeeping things before getting my first coffee. Then, when I was just about to get my first coffee of the day, when Bam! The power went out. Then I read a notice on my phone that my friend Cassandra sent me said it was going to be out all day. Well, there was almost no wine blog, as I had no internet for a while. But luckily it came on a short while later, just as I was getting dressed to go out for coffee. I wasn’t taking any chances, I made two. A quick Nespresso while my other coffee was brewing.

Last Friday night I went out to dinner with some friends, and they were surprised when I took an ice cube and put it in my red wine. They were shocked. I know regular readers of the blog know how I feel about ‘room temperature’, but I’ve added a lot of new readers recently, and I thought I would share it again.

The room temperature of wine is the temperature of the wine cellars where winemakers store the wine. This is usually 55-degrees Fahrenheit or 13 – 16-degrees Celsius. Some big bold reds can be served at 18-degrees Celsius. The lighter fruitier wines should be served a little cooler. When I was recently in France, I encouraged everyone I went with to touch the bottles of wine in the cellars we toured. Most were underground and the bottles were very cool to the touch. Wine was never meant to be served at 24-degrees Celsius. And wishing my friends Judy & Gary a very Happy 50th Anniversary.

I have always promoted this blog as being about great wine at affordable prices. Today, I’m going to focus on some wines that are under the $20 mark that you and your friends will love.

It’s Rose Season!

Here’s a great one from the Niagara region and to my Newfoundland friends and readers, you can get it there as well. The Lola Cabernet Franc rose from Pelee Island is priced under $20 and perfect for patio sipping.

To my white wine loving readers, here’s a new white. Last week I told you about the Burnt Ship Sauvignon Blanc, I’m still on that kick. Here’s a great value, the Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc.

Priced at $12, you read that right, $12. They make a Chardonnay as well, but I love the Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and fresh with tropical fruit notes. Very good.

And last but not least, a new red I’ve tried that is under $20.

Malbec is not normally a go-to wine for me, but did I ever enjoy this Argentinian one from Gauchezco. To my friends in Newfoundland, it has a different label, but you can get this brand there. It looks like this

Priced in the $17 range, this rich deep Malbec is was perfect with my favorite meal.

BBQ baby back ribs, crispy wings, corn on the cob and rice.

Great wine doesn’t have to expensive. Be adventurous, you might be surprised, like I was with this wonderful Malbec.

That’s it for me for this week. Thank you for reading. And a big hello to our new readers over seas.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene